Building a career as a mortgage lender can be incredibly rewarding — both for financial gain and satisfaction. But it can feel intimidating when you’re first starting, especially when there are other well-established professionals around you. However, there are gaps in the market that can make your unique approach to lending stand out.
Start by considering why you got into the lending business in the first place. Did you have a lending experience that went awry, making the prospect of changing the lending game one that stuck? Or perhaps you love real estate and want to be part of your client’s home ownership story. No matter your career motivations, there are several ways to grow your business and thrive as a lending professional.
1. Offer the Best Customer Experience
Walk through your customer’s potential paths to your services to identify opportunities for improvements and enhancements. Consider search engine discovery, referrals, and in-person exposure. Establish consistency across all access points so customers are greeted with the same warm, welcoming, and helpful tone.
When it comes to the loan pre-approval process, review each step you currently follow. Ask yourself, “why do we do it this way?” and see if your team can come up with new solutions. Verification of income is often one of the trickiest parts of loan pre-qualification.
Generally, potential borrowers rely on the turnaround time of their employer’s human resources team. The sooner you can offer pre-approval on a loan, the sooner your borrower can pinpoint homes in their price range. Sometimes, a pre-approval letter can help improve the strength of their bid, especially when the market is competitive.
A delay in the income verification process can even lead to lasting impacts on your borrowers’ loans. Delays can impact closing terms, interest rate locks, and can even result in losing a bid on their dream home. Make improvements in your processes that boost customer experience, and potential results, every step of the way. Borrowers, Realtors, and sellers alike will appreciate your clean process, potentially resulting in future referrals thanks to your reputation.
2. Create Authentic Relationships With Realtors and Industry Professionals
For many years, the process of home buying was rife with gatekeepers. Realtors had exclusive access to the multiple listing service (MLS) database and brokers knew the fine print in closing documents. When it came time for borrowers to link up with a lender, they often exclusively relied on their realtors’ referrals.
While potential borrowers still rely on the expertise of their realtor, the process of building relationships has changed. With culture shifts that re-prioritize deals made on the golf course, the relationship-building playing field is rife with opportunity. Seize your moment to position yourself as an authentic partner for real estate professionals, not just a great conversationalist.
The loan churn cycle for your organization has targets, just as realtors have theirs. Familiarize yourself with their sales goals and timelines by attending industry events and striking up conversations. Sometimes, this may be a realtor awards ceremony or simply a local networking event. No matter the venue, strike up conversations with a spirit of helpfulness, which can help establish trust and rapport.
Aim to learn about their pain points and offer support where you’re able. Ask open-ended questions and take notes during your conversations. Follow-up after the event to connect on LinkedIn, email, or both. Resist the urge to ask for their business, instead ask how you can help them. When it’s time to provide potential buyers with lending options, your helpful approach will help you top their referral list.
3. Get Involved in Your Community
There’s a reason why Little League jerseys are emblazoned with the logos of local professionals. Supporting community endeavors continues to have great reach and impact, especially in industries where consumers have options.
Identify opportunities in your community where your support has an impact and offers exposure to your target customers. Beyond Little League jerseys, there are many ways to engage with your local community. Participate in local events like farmer’s markets, offering resources and takeaways for potential customers’ benefit.
Trinkets like stress balls need-not apply — position your unique offering in a way that urges your customer to act. Spark conversations by asking questions like, “what’s your family’s financial future worth to you?” This jarring question will likely get folks to stop and ask what you mean. And if your time-to-close ratio is so tight that your customers on average save thousands of dollars, it’s worth sharing.
Your goal in community engagement isn’t just to have your logo plastered everywhere. It may feel great to see your name or even face in lights, but sales conversion matters more. Be intentional with advertising buys and sponsorship commitments, focusing on how those venues can convert into loan closures.
Successful Selling is Built on Kept Promises
While relationship building is still essential for success, serving as a resource for potential clients may yield greater results. And delivering on the promises you make to your borrowers and partners in business matters. Set clear expectations with all parties involved in the lending process. Use your internal targets and controls to ensure you’re meeting expectations. And if something changes, communicate clearly with all of your stakeholders.
With the proliferation of customer-generated feedback on platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Google, reputation matters. And if something goes awry, your customers are sure to share their woes publicly. Aim to set the standard for excellent customer service, establish great relationships, and support your friends and neighbors. When you deliver on your promises, you’ll soon become one of the most trusted and successful resources in lending.